Tag Archives: Marvel

The rest of the weekend

I spent some time writing on Sunday after I spoke with my parents. I didn’t keep track of the words, but it felt like about 2/3 of what I accomplished Saturday.

I left it seconds before the first volley of a sea battle. It should be easy enough to pick up when I get another writing day. I’m debating the value of sinking enemy ships, because it’s warfare now vs. still trying to loot them, because my characters are pirates.

Realistically, they would want to loot, but their enemies probably would not roll over like merchants might. It may seem like a dumb thing to ponder, but it felt like a good place to leave it.

I watched the second quarter of the football game, but just couldn’t get into it. That’s when I bailed for something on Netflix.

I know I’m late to the party, but I watched the first season of Jessica Jones. It’s Marvel, and I figured I might learn something.

I liked the show, and the characters. David Tennant was fabulously evil. The plot dragged a bit to me. I felt like the detective work was fairly realistic, but real detective work can be boring. In fiction, picking up the pace is a decent plan.

What I loved was the setting. I know sometimes my settings are a bit sparse, but this was a good reminder. It was a dirty inner city, and everything was wonderfully aged.

They had ancient 1960s era cabinetry that had been painted over, including those weird bullhorn flared knobs. All the wallpaper was aged and dated. Everything was magnificently dirty and broken. I even appreciated the grungy small sized tile outside Jessica’s apartment.

One scene in a basement involved aged bricks that led into old cinderblocks, right down to the salt those old blocks bleed after a period of time. I get it, block was cheap, so they reserved the brick for the public face. It adds a lot to the story.

This may sound odd, but it was a good reminder that setting can carry a big part of the story. I tried to take it seriously in Grinders, and it worked out well.

The lesson for me is to remember to do more of that. Doesn’t have to be a dirty inner city environment, but just to take it up a notch.

How about you guys? Does setting enhance your reading pleasure, or viewing in this case? Have you watched Jessica Jones? What did you think?

35 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized, Writing

This post probably has spoilers

I don’t know why we have to say that, but I did anyway. It’s my blog, and I should be allowed to post anything I like. Today was a day of errands, and ended with my wife and I going to Infinity War.

My daughter had an hour available, so she gave me a much needed haircut. After that I went and got some blood work done. This is a twice per year thing for me to get my PSA numbers checked.

My wife ran her own errands, and we likely crossed paths on the main drag a few times today. After that, we went to the movies.

My verdict… meh. Here’s the deal, I’ve invested years in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Not seeing this film is like wasting all that time. I only knew bits and pieces of the original story, and they tell me the movie varies widely anyway.

Here’s where it goes off the rails for me. Three Act Structure. You guys know I’m a big believer in three act structure. This doesn’t mean you have to tell the whole story in one swoop, there are some masterpieces that came out as trilogies. Star Wars worked to a large degree because of three act structure: Star Wars – The Empire Strikes Back – Return of the Jedi. Lord of the Rings did the same thing in book form long before the movies came along. When those movies came along, they stuck to the structure.

When you take a gigantic story, and split it into two movies it does not work. The midpoint, i.e. the end of the first film, falls at the absolute blackest most miserable point in the story. Everyone walks out being bummed to a large degree. I overheard comments from other viewers.

I felt this way when they split the last Harry Potter book into two films. I feel this way today. This is because the last part of Act Two involves a regrouping and moving forward with a desperate plan. There is a breath of hope this way. Now that breath of hope has to be the first part of the second Infinity War movie.

Yeah, I know it’s coming, but this film ends on a low note. I wonder how many casual fans Marvel will lose at this point. Some of them won’t come back for the big ending.

I also know Marvel won’t waste all of that capital and goodwill by killing off so many money making characters. It’s just not happening. This story didn’t have to be this way, and I’m sorry it was.

In a perfect world, I would have waited to watch this on HBO or something one day before I saw part 2 in the theater.

In other news, I broke my vow and worked on my pirate story. There is this event a few chapters from now, and I added about 1500 words to serve as a plant for that event. I like it, but it may need some tweaks later on.

I could have written a couple of interviews instead, but I have a bunch out in the mail. I hope they come in sometime in the next three weeks, but in that time I’ll probably send out a few more. So I used a bit of my time on my project.

Back to work tomorrow.

40 Comments

Filed under Writing

This is your brain on memes

I am an internet citizen. Memes are out there. I see them and chuckle along with everyone else. The funny thing is that everything has become fodder for my mind these days. Why should memes be any different.

There has been one floating around for a while now and it stuck with me for a long time, because it relates to writing rules. It also relates to different ways of doing the same thing. If you're one of my regulars, you know I've been at this point before. I'm on the verge of an epiphany, but I haven't quite nailed it down. Sometimes I get clarity by writing about it.

If you stuck with me this long, I'll just jump right to it. This is the one that set me off:

I saw this a month or two ago and never gave it much thought. Last night we went to Guardians of the Galaxy II and it came screaming back into my mind. It actually took me a while to find the meme I wanted. Things on the internet don't have much of a shelf life.

Let's get the movie review out of the way, for those who expect such things… Awesome! I loved it, and so did the rest of my family. I'm sure there are hundreds of reviews in blogland, and this isn't the main purpose of my post.

This whole meme is just an extension of the DC vs Marvel thing that's gone on for generations. You know, Ford vs Chevy, Coke vs Pepsi, etc. I want to enjoy the contrast between the DC and Marvel films. The fact is, I enjoy them both. I can't wait to see the Wonder Woman movie.

This is a whole bunch like my reading habits. I bounce around in genres, and I like the tone of the stories to change from book to book. Truth is, I write this way too.

There were some lighthearted moments in Panama. The Playground had some dark moments. Practical Geology, in my last Experimental Notebook, was very dark. My first Notebook had one called The Soup Ladle of Destiny… lighthearted.

The Guardians of the Galaxy are older than the films, but it took the films to bring me to this point. Who the hell writes this stuff??? It's just batshit crazy. It's also brilliant.

Film has tools that an author doesn't have access to. I would love to have my hero walking in slow motion to a dramatic soundtrack. I'd love to use a sight gag, like when Rocket Raccoon was playing with his land mines. (Just see the film already.) As a writer, I have access to a lot of tools too. I'll just have to go about it a different way.

Last night it occurred to me. When I worry about how a story might be received, I might be holding myself back. Our world is so politically correct, so stressed about fitting within an ordained image, that it can influence our fiction.

Then it occurred to me that another internet meme could help me here:

If I put a governor on my words, I could be preventing myself from writing something brilliant. I even had this conversation with a prominent crime author last year. We discussed what a woman can write that a man cannot. I'm not convinced yet, but I'm working on it. Woman writes a grisly rape and murder scene, she's a woman and it's a serious concern. Man writes the same scene and he's a sick pervert.

She says there is no difference. I still worry about it, and I'll probably never get rid of my filter completely, but it's a great goal.

From now on, I think I'm going to daydream at the finished outline phase. I'm going to assess the insanity and darkness meters. What would a twenty percent adjustment do to the story. What if a dark story were twenty percent darker? What if a lighthearted tale were to go into insane territory? I may not write them that way, but by asking the question, I may be leveling up to a degree.

Help me out here. What do you guys think? Honey Badger might be onto something. The blog world has been kind of quiet, let's get some interaction going.

55 Comments

Filed under Writing

Do I dare call it a vacation?

My wife is on her way to St. George, Utah. Her plane was delayed by over an hour, but she's in the air.

I took a vacation day tomorrow, and I have a rotating day off on Friday. That gives me four days to get something done. My wife will return Saturday night though.

Tonight I'm going to update this blog. Then I'm going to tackle something before I go to bed. I have two radio interviews to work up, so it may be one of those. I may dig into my critique responses, but something.

The big sale for The Playground ended. I sold a few, but it isn't as big a deal as it would have been in 2014. Things seem to be changing, and I feel a little bit lost again. Rumor has it that nothing is selling all that well, and maybe it's just time to dig in. I've always had my best sales in the Fall, and I might wait until then before I promote too much more.

My book club bought many of the copies, so I have high hopes of getting reviews when they ultimately get read.

The last time my wife left town, I watched a couple of Marvel movies with my son. We don't interact much, but we had a good time. This time, I bought a copy of Deadpool, and since neither one of us had seen it, figured we'd do the same. When I woke up this morning, the wrapper was gone, and the movie wasn't where I left it. Turns out he found it last night and watched it without me. I feel kind of snubbed.

My wife hates it when I make plans, so she guaranteed that I have to watch the Grandkids one night. I swear I'd be better off to take a tent into the woods and write until the battery dies.

Doesn't matter, tomorrow is all about the Yak Guy. I'm going to add words to that story come hell or high water. I may even dabble with some short fiction when my head gets too tired of that project.

I also have reading to catch up on. I'm really enjoying the novel I've been reading, but it's taken me weeks to get through it. This is because of all the tasks I take on and not because of the book. I'm going to finish it though. I may have to look for some short stories after that, because I can get through them easier. Later this summer I can probably take on another novel.

In other news, I still have fruit trees to prune, thin, and spray. I have to earmark some time for that too. I'm looking forward to not going to the office, and getting some of my projects finished.

27 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

The game changes

Lisa* and I decided to try a bit of editing out at the writing cabin. New words were hung up in my headache, but editing seemed like a possibility. /there might be a small chance to spruce up The Playground.

“Okay, Lisa. You're out for a walk, and it's cold outside. You have your pea coat on, and your special work bag.”

“Oh crap. Do you think I should order a pea coat?”

“Just wing it, and we'll go over the dialog one more time.”

“I don't know. It would probably come across better if I had a pea coat. Should I order a blue one, or a tan one?”

“It doesn't matter. It won't be here in time.”

“Good point. I ordered one anyway.” She looked down at the antique blunderbuss and toyed with the hammer. “Oh cool. They have a pink one too. I'd better order both of them.”

“Can we get back to work now?”

“And a scarf. They would look really cute with my pea coats.” Her eyes fluttered the way they do when she's online.

I figured I'd lost her down a rabbit hole of matching nail polish, and probably some shoes that match the new coats.

In the last month, I've read The Playground a dozen times or more. It has three point of view characters, and I even read those sections like short stories all at once. “Let's give up for the night. I don't think I'm improving anything from here on out. It needs fresh eyes.”

I closed my word processor and checked email. There were a few new Facebook likes, some blog likes, and a note from Mom. “Woo Hoo! Look at this?”

“What? Is there another color of pea coat?”

“No! It's the cover to The Playground.”

Lisa jumped up and ran behind my desk to look for herself. She put a hand to her mouth and bent at the knees. “Oh my God. Sean Harrington is so talented. Does this mean we're publishing tonight?”

“Noooo. You haven't been listening. The manuscript needs fresh eyes.”

“Will you put out a call for beta readers again?”

“Not just beta readers. A whole street team. Maybe I need a cry to action, something like, Avengers Assemble!”

“Do you want the Avengers?”

“Yeah, kind of, but I doubt that's going to happen. It would make a great call to action though.”

“It already has. Maybe you should just ask nicely. You know, like the last time.”

“Yeah, that works too. Alright then, Wednesday night I'll ask for volunteers. I need some time to think about what I want. It's only polite to tell people what they can volunteer for. There are the beta readers, the cover reveal, maybe a reviewer or two. Then I need to get people to host me, and you too. You aren't getting off the hook on this one.”

“I'm sure. I have my new poster all ready to hand out.”

“While the betas are working, I can write some guest posts. It's easy enough to grab an excerpt to share.”

“Do you want me to put the blunderbuss in the basement with the other story elements?”

I picked up the antique gun and shouldered it. “It really is cool. Maybe we ought to display it up here.”

“Don't they traditionally go over a fireplace?”

“Good plan. Why don't you hang it over the fireplace in the paranormal office. The Playground is a paranormal story.”

“Got it. What are you going to do?”

“I'm going to go home and see if the X-Files is on tonight.”

“Goodnight then. See you Wednesday?”

“Absolutely. Exelcior!”

“Give it up. Just ask everyone nicely. You don't need a stupid battle cry.”

I headed past the paranormal office toward the landing strip.

*Lisa Burton is my robotic personal assistant. She's also the official spokesmodel for Entertaining Stories.

A 'No Prize' for anyone who recognized Lisa's outfit as one she bought in her short story, Bombshell Squad.

~~~ “Stop with the Marvel rip offs. I'm reading your blog.”

“Killjoy.”

24 Comments

Filed under Muse, Writing

Spoiler Alert, Spoiler Alert

Those of you who watch Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but have not watched the season finale yet, should turn away now. If you really want to read something I wrote, there are books available in the sidebar. Have fun. Come back to this post after you watch the show.

SHIELD has always been something like a sine wave to me. It’s either really slow or really good. I’m into it, so I watch, but there are times where an episode doesn’t measure up. That was not the case last night. I stayed up past old man bedtime to watch the two hour season finale.

I kind of wish they could get an A or B list superhero to show up on occasion. I’d like to see Reed Richards help them out with something on occasion.

The first hour was mostly about moving the pieces around and explaining the bad lady’s plan. It’s nice that Skye’s mom wound up being the villain, and it was kind of cool that her dad is just a wacko. I actually checked a few emails and only watched peripherally.

The second hour was nothing like that. In fact the last ten minutes wouldn’t allow me to go to sleep right away. Evil is defeated, but lives on in some leaky alien material at the bottom of the sea. Fish swim through it, and this leads to fish oil tablets that are contaminated being placed on the supermarket shelves. This stuff either kills or gives super powers. Nice cliffhanger, but it wasn’t the only one. (Maybe Namor will show up next year.)

Coulson, who I love, winds up saving his team, but loses a hand and part of his forearm in the fray. Rumor has it that he’s an artificial life form, because he was killed in the Avengers movie. Project Tahiti may have transferred him into some other body that only looks like Coulson. Things like this are easily overcome in the superhero world. Still, cliffhanger.

Skye gets to drive Lola, because Coulson presumably can’t. He’s been pretty touchy about his flying car, and this was kind of cool. They landed presumably in Tahiti, where something from the Tahiti project was used to wipe out her crazy dad’s memories and give him new ones. This relates to the prevalent Coulson theory.

May, who I also love, checks out her sexy pink bikini before packing it in her luggage. This is dramatically different for her, so something is up. She decides to leave for a while to find herself, or something. Not a huge cliffhanger, but I am left wondering if next year we’ll get to see that bikini in action. (Hey, she’s one of the few actresses that’s closer to my age.)

Fitz and Simmons. He finally gets the courage to not only talk to her, but ask her on a date. She does her happy schoolgirl routine and he leaves her alone in the alien tech locker. He wants  to scope out restaurants for their date. Isn’t she cute about it? Yup.

Then some alien monolith from last year bounces between liquid and solid a time or two. (It did this last year, nothing to worry about.) It leaves its container and slurps Simmons up like a spaghetti noodle before returning to its container and monolithic phase. WTF!

Tune in next year…

Did anyone else watch the show? What did you think? I thought it was a blast.

15 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

The River Pixies

The Snake River God is plaguing me. I had big plans to go sturgeon fishing today, but they died last night.

Old What’s Her Face* called me on my way from work. The sprinkler system needs to be turned on, and right now!

I told her I would turn everything on when I got home and asked her to record the season finale of Shield for me. I changed into something suitable for spider webs, mud, and slugs and dove right in.

Our community system must have been turned off. There was no water at all. I suppose the River God sent his pixies to interfere with my fishing trip. I promised to work on it today, and my fishing adventure crumbled to dust. I swear I heard giggling over the sound of frogs when I went to bed last night.

Good news, the system is watering our yard right now. I’m sure there will be the inevitable dead sprinkler head, but I’m making progress. (And plotting my revenge on the River God.)

Aanndd – here I am online like I planned to escape from. Might as well update my blog.

In other good news, I got as high as number 36 on the Amazon list last night. Woo Hoo! This is the top 100 free science fiction books.

Wild Concept is free for a few more days. I always thought this story would resonate with the comic book crowd. Marvel has conquered television and the movies, and the timing feels right. I even got a comic book artist to make my cover. I’d like to break through to the comic crowd. If you know any fans or casual readers of comics, please tell them about my free promotion. Maybe together we can crack the top ten.

I hate self promotion, but here it is: I’m asking you to tell people about my give away.

Some very generous people have promised reviews. I hope they like it, and I earned good reviews. One reader already let me know she’s finished about a third of the book and is enjoying it.

Panama is also available on Amazon. My give away might have stomped its release, but I’m looking at things from a long term perspective. Those who like Wild Concept might give Panama a chance too. No robots, no frogs (inside joke for those who read Wild Concept), just a fun romp through the paranormal side of life. Deadly snakes, bugs, torrential downpour, witchcraft, revolution, explosions, demons: what’s not to like? Fun for the whole family, right?

Since last night imploded, I got to watch Shield. Director Colson has a nice ring to it. I hope this will influence the movies as well. He and May had some awesome scenes last night. May is always amazing, but Colson has fewer and bigger moments. Can’t wait for what they have planned in the Fall.

* Not my wife’s actual name.

12 Comments

Filed under Writing